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For What it’s Worth: On Approach to Success

Two weeks ago today, I came up to the Seattle area from my small-town beginnings in the high Arizona desert. I’ve lived in other places, but this will be my first real experience in a metropolitan area (free of military obligations, that is). I intended to stay for a couple of weeks and see if I like it. Within the first couple of days, I found that I really enjoyed the area – the lush green foliage, the weather, the culture and people, the industries, the public transportation, and the economy…it’s all very progressive, and appears to be open-minded to change and individual culture.

When browsing Craigslist and Indeed, it’s apparent the job market out here is simply outstanding. I’ve had no issues finding a multitude of jobs that I’m personally interested in pursuing. I had revised and updated my resume before coming up, and have continued to revise and condense my wealth of experiences into an easy-to-read, simply informative, and eye-catching document. Being in this environment has also allowed me to update myself to current technological advancements in respect to the industries I’m interested in (media production). I’m continuing to learn, and having an actual good time searching for what’s right for me. I also appear to have the opportunity to do as much freelance work as am willing, which is fantastic.

While it was an easy transplant (I had a welcomed cushion in getting here, and have a place to stay until I get on my feet), I find that the hardest thing to get myself here was convincing myself that I needed to. Working at a decent-paying job (for the area), but having recently been moved to part time, I knew my days at my previous employer were numbered. It’s hard to deal with a rut, a stagnant position in life and career. Couple the issues at work and a recent failed relationship, it can bring you down. Very hard. I’m thankful to have had an objective view on my position thanks to my friends and family, and the opportunity I was given to go where I felt that I needed to. Seattle was always my number one interest in metropolitan areas to see what it had to offer, and I’m looking forward to the future here. I think I’ll be staying for a while. If only to continue my own pursuit of happiness.

Sometimes you simply need to put yourself into a new environment to break yourself of mental chains (self-imposed or otherwise) in order to even begin working towards something better. I’m not saying I’ve broken free of everything that I feel was holding me back where I was, but being halfway across the country can do make things for you.

I’m here in Seattle (actually a suburb, Covington), and due to the surprisingly many friends and their families from my past who had come up here before me, it’s a foreign area, yet just familiar enough to help make me feel comfortable. I’m living life more and more day by day. Opportunities are still endless when you understand your limitations. The trouble is recognizing your limitations based on your location. Take that for what it’s worth.

On Attempting to Begin a Career in Music

I’ve begun the process to license as much of my old released & unreleased music as I feel appropriate. I have tracks that I’ve worked on numbering in the mid-to-high 4-digit range, and have only released 150-200 of those ever online (via ACIDplanet and SoundCloud). I’ve only ever wanted to let public the most consistent of my material over the years (and some of my more curious demos and inspired instrumentals). But I have untold numbers of atmospheric, alternative, and what we might say “soundtrack-like material” just sitting on old hard drives, and pieces here and there. There is so much that I have had a vision for, but without the capability or drive to complete (or even pursue further) said vision.

In an effort to make good on my promise to myself to release my art from its current selfish enclosure, I’ve began the process to license my art to better avail others looking for that thing particular that would make their own art stand out, or reach beyond its own boundaries, to help it reach the next level. Any licensing I do will not be exclusive (which I’m planning to save for my future spec endeavors), so the possibility exists to hear the same track on multiple media. Basically, I believe that most of my music had the potential to suit multiple different projects and styles, and I’d like everyone to have the chance to get what they consider to be the perfect backdrop for their vision. That being said, it means I cannot ask for as much in royalty as I might. Not that anybody couldn’t find what they’re looking elsewhere, but I feel that as a modern recording artist, if I’m going to have music out on a single platform, I’d like it’s uniqueness to reflect the quality and individuality of the project. Therefore, any exclusivity-based licensing of my music will be handled by contract personally. This may carrier headaches, but it’s how I see fit at this early juncture.

Have you thoughts on music licensing in this digital age? Let me know your thoughts!

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My First Single & Beyond

I began playing guitar in 1999. I began making music on my computer in 2002. On June 1st, 2016, I released my first official single upon the world to streaming and pay services on the internet. It’s been a long ~14 years. It is an instrumental (aren’t they all?) that I’ve been sitting on for months, and after almost a year of sitting on my DistroKid subscription with no releases, I decided to bite the bullet and put something out there.

This release is particular not only for being my first release with intent to begin seeing where for my passion in craft can take me with a business sense, but it throws my hat into the (some would say murky, clouded, or crowded) waters of the new media market. This song was actually less intensely scrutinized (technically) as I have been with, say, the tracks that I’m working on for my album, but especially because it didn’t need it. I like the track a lot, and feel it stands on its own. But this release also encapsulates a step in my personal development in an attempt to pursue some kind of financial backing specifically for this said passion. Dreams be that I were to make a simple living just making my music – which has in itself become nigh-impossible in itself in this day and age, especially for those without any touring plans – but there are many things that I am working towards. Perhaps this was more than a step, but a dive into the possibilities of my future. This is the one thing that I’ve always been able to do well, and it’s time to try and evolve it into the status that I feel it is worth. So, here’s to the future…

 

Pick your poison for your service of choice, and let me know what you think:

Amazon

Google Play

iTunes

Spotify

You can also find the track on Rdio, Deezer, Tidal, Microsoft Groove, and MediaNet.

Goodbye, Mr. McCarron!

A podcaster near and dear to my heart is gracefully bowing out. Over the past five years, he’s been producing the Composer Quest and Charlie’s Music Production Lessons podcasts. His was one of the first music production podcasts I’d found and actually enjoyed. His pleasant demeanor and well-spoken, well-thought out ideas have always been presented clearly and entertainingly, and he’s been a personal inspiration of mine for quite a long time. His podcasts have helped and inspired me beyond all measure, and I’m truly thankful for what he’s provided for us all to go through.

 

That being said, I don’t mean to eulogize! This is a good thing, and hopefully with this, he’ll be able to move on to truly bigger and better things, and I wish him the best in that regard! Now, for this big finale, he’s cooking up a traveling podcast tour, spanning 3 countries, and who knows how many musicians and producers. He’ll interview those so curious while on the road, with information and insight to entertain and teach for years to come.

 

I implore you to join me in donating to Mr. McCarron’s exit Kickstarter. You may even end up hearing me on a future episode 😉

 

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/charliemccarron/composer-quest-podcast-world-tour/widget/video.html

2016 Album Update & Music Industry Digression

The most exciting recent news for content: Artwork for the upcoming album is 95% complete! Aside from a few small changes (which may or may not actually take place) the album art is simply amazing; I would happily release it as is, though I have asked for a revision for the sake of possibly clarifying the concept even further.

In winter 2015, I commissioned a notable digital artist to create the artwork for my upcoming hard rock/metal concept album – due for release this year (initially, I’d predicted a late-Spring release, though this is looking unlikely as time ticks by). The artist in question was a rising star reddit user by the name of Chema Mendez. I’d come across his art several times in one week, and thanks to a breakout front page thread on /r/pics, I ended up perusing his entire portfolio. I ultimately came to the conclusion that this was the artist who could appropriately bring my vision of concept to life. I came across contact information for him, and have waited months for this.

I patiently allowed him time and space to do what he does best, and it was well worth the wait, I must say. A small price to pay for excellent work. This experience proves to me that good art cannot be forced, and only reinforces my efforts on this album. I imagine in the future, I’m going to have many questions about the art in particular, so I’m preempting that in this post.

At present I have upwards of 20 demos that I’m fleshing out into full songs. When those are completed, I’ll be giving them all strong consideration, and from there begin to determine a track listing.

This album is a concept album, and I have put a lot of thought into what this album should be. I’m orchestrating (or attempting to) an entirely unique piece of art – everything from the album art, to the mood of the music, and the meaning of the lyrics – they all coincide to create one whole. That’s not to say the tracks won’t be individually consumable, I’m just typically not the most avant garde with my music (though I do attempt to be progressive in my own nature) and I am trying to maintain as cohesive listening experience as possible. But every song is its own, and will be available individually.

Older musicians say “The Album” as a modern art (of which it most certainly is a modern advent of the recording industry) is dead, and that everything is that “single-serving consumerist product” nowadays, which Jack alluded to in one of his diatribes early on in the film version of Fight Club. I don’t think it’s dead at all. In fact, I’d submit that it’s now as artistic of an endeavor as it ever was, if not even more so. You think about the “quick hit beats” and fifteen minutes pop artists present nowadays- sure, they sate the ADD of the modern consumerist culture when they have a couple of minutes on a drive to and from work (or even at work). But when you go on a long drive, you create a mixtape (*ahem* playlist…some might be surprised at the amount of people still burning CDs for their vehicles, even while most modern stock PCs no longer come with a disc drive).

When you need a break from podcasts and talking heads on TV, you want a cohesive set list of a certain brand. That’s why Pandora is out, and Spotify and Google Play/YouTube curated playlists are the new(ish) best thing about streaming radio. It’s all about having music that’s similar, holds a spiritual relationship from one song to the next, or having a person of a specific mind which you relate to on a personal level (with [arguably] more wisdom for the groove of a string of songs together) put something up to just press play for. I’m digressing infinitely, but I think you get my meaning.

The playlist is the new album, and it’s one giant compilation album. It’s a reason why I was infatuated with film soundtracks when I was younger, and why Roadrunner Records had one of the best musical album releases of all time (my own opinion) with The All-Star Sessions. Sure, it wasn’t a “concept album” necessarily, but it was a true all-star gathering of great aggressive and frustrated and influential musical minds that created some of the most insane art and tribute as a basic concept.

I’d submit that it is also the reason that raves and enormous multi-day and multi-artist open-air shows are what’s culturally relevant now (not saying they never weren’t…there’s a reason people still speak of Woodstock- which was almost 50 years ago now). People want a lot of similar – not necessarily of the same. And the majority of album releases in previous decades were simply mostly filler, “artists” putting out trash without substance. And now, the cream of little substance rises to the top (which is why I myself even have become a fan of “Top 40” over recent years). Singles are now the presentation of the best of the artist (how “good” that may be is entirely subjective), and unless it’s something unique and new, and truly transformative in the case of artists like Skrillex and Macklemore, or classically groove-worthy music of feeling like Adele, we don’t need to hear more than the single.

There are two main genres that seem to subvert this modern notion of “Singles Only, Please!” radio play, and that’s the hardened core of metal, and the hip hop crowd. Truly opposing sides of the industry as a whole, and while I would say that I personally fall squarely in the metal camp, that certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t respect hip hop culture. To the contrary, I respect beyond words that the hip hop crowd truly has as deep a connection with the meaning and feeling of their music as the metalheads of the world, and I’ll say that there is simply some excellent rap and hip hop artists out there who truly impress me as much as any metal legend (though whom I also personally may or may not hold as high a torch for). From a young age, metal spoke to me, and it has by far the deepest connection with my musical being – as an artist certainly, but mostly as a listener. All of that being said, these two cultures are rabid about what’s good, and considered the “best”. You can look at “Top 10’s” and all kinds of lists, and even the genealogy of sub-genres (take a peek at Sam Dunn’s lexicon of metal history on the BangerTV YouTube channel; and I’m sure there is a hip hop equivalent). What you’ll quickly find is the deep respect and widely-regarded “best of’s” of each genre (and sub-genre).

 

Back to the album…

I’ve drawn from 13 years of audio and music production experience to culminate in the release of this album. I am employing every skill I’ve gained over that time, and not the least of which what I’ve learned over the past year more than any. There is a cohesion in the album that excites me. This is a solid concept album. From the mood of the music, to the lyrics, to the art, lah-dee-dah-dee-dah everything I’ve said before. I’m simply so excited to get this finished, yet there’s still most of the work to be done from now. That being said, it will go much much quicker when I finally get passed the demo & tracking stages, because it’s all pretty clear. It’s making the existing and continuous pieces fit together the way I want that is the hardest part. I’ve made so much music, that I want this to be more special than any before. And I’ve retooled old tracks that I feel fit my vision, it’s just too exciting. Can’t wait for people to hear it. In the meantime, if you’re reading this (no one currently does), feel free to drop me a line, and we can chat, and maybe collaborate in the future!

 

Peace, all!

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SoundCloud Go

I used to use SoundCloud (hell…back when I was releasing music regularly). I have not used it to upload my music for some 3-4 years now. That’s not to say I wouldn’t use it again. But, as I come to update my credentials as an artist, and weigh all of the means with which there are to get my music and content out there, as far as importance, well…SoundCloud is near the end of the list. It’s just above beatport and Last.fm. And if I’m being completely honest – I don’t think I’ll be using any of those services. They are second- and third-tier music services in the eyes of this independent recording artist who has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. But, based on my years on the internet as such a musician, and a music and podcast consumer…I simply have no need for these services. SoundCloud was nice when I wanted to upload and share new or work-in-progress tracks or songs with a few friends, and I may use it for that in the future. Last.fm I haven’t used in a decade, and I have no experience with beatport to understand its purpose in the eyes of its creators, or its users for that matter. I make my music, and upload it when I want people to hear it; there appears to be some collaborative effort in play with beatport, so I can’t really comment further.

Currently, when I listen to podcasts, I use an Android app called Podcast Addict. It aggregates from various directories and websites for every kind of podcast imaginable (and can be entered manually from feeds). And when I listen to music….there’s simply nothing else I use other than Google Play Music. That is how I consume my content. I paid the one-time fee for Podcast Addict sans ads, and just the other day re-upped my subscription to Google Play Music because the benefits and service are, in my opinion, unrivaled. And modern consumers want those kinds of services; “Find>Click>Play“. If anyone wants to be involved with me as an artist, they’ll be following my YouTube channel, and if not that, my website. So, while the previously mentioned “lower tier” services provide niche content in a broadly-appealing way, I know for a fact that the “numbers” aren’t  actually going to care about said niche. So why should I? I’m doing all of this myself, researching, creating, uploading, releasing, marketing…removing the chaff from my goals as an independent artist. That’s what my research has boiled my view down to (and I’m going to be lazy, and not quantify said research in any capacity other than for my own use – which to anyone else I’m sure would be incoherent anyways).

 

Everything else I’d really like to say about their new subscription model (“SoundCloud Go“) has already been said, by a one Dave Wiskus, in an open letter to SC. I’ll just leave this here.

 

To SoundCloud, Love Dave (and Grae)

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Soundproofing: An Article by the Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters crew have gotten together and published an in-depth article on reasonable and legitimate home studio acoustic treatment. I’ll provide a little more personal insight into this later on, I figured this would be good to pass on for the time being. Eventually I’ll have a link dump resource for this, as it’s a fickle […]

Online Discussion: “Do DAWs Color Sound?”

[Original Thread Link Here]

 

Of the many online discussion resources for audio production gear, techniques, etc. there are several resources that I find I am consistently checking up on. One of those is Reddit’s r/AudioEngineering subreddit. It’s a more “professional” or simply pro audio-based community than similar, such as r/WeAreTheMusicMakers (which can be annoyingly tedious to find any decently presented information or opinion on music production). The r/AudioEngineering community is as respectable as I think is possible on a site as large as Reddit. Though, you’ll most certainly find detractors who would say that the few people whom might be viewing this forum with any honest-to-goodness experience and legitimate worthwhile opinion couldn’t be bothered to post there (I’m looking at you, GearSlutz).

But, in any sizable conglomeration of people, if you’re attempting to keep an objective viewpoint, you’re going to find what you’re looking for – informed opinions from those with experience in similar areas to which I’m pursuing, in my case. So, that being said, a very interesting topic came up on the AE subreddit, from user exit143: “Do DAW’s color sound?” [sp]

It’s a topic I’d indeed heard mentioned by some person or another in my 13+ years working with DAWs, from some discussion, on some forum lost to time. I ultimately came to the conclusion that I’d find out for myself innately, sooner or later. And which, ultimately, wouldn’t even matter to me – if I could achieve specifically what I was going for by producing music – in any DAW – it simply would be a non-issue.

Technically, coloration happens within literally every step of any given recording chain, if you’re looking deep enough for it. The analogue signal will simply change when bouncing from one converter to the next, from one cable to the next. But that will typically be on minute details. But then again, there are reasons an audio engineer would prefer one preamp over another. The gear does matter. That coloration does matter – at least to someone.

Now, if you’re looking at technical limitations and boundaries as a bedroom producer, you’re better off choosing one among your choices at random, and sticking with that for the foreseeable future. Because you’ll naturally tailor yourself to the program/workload/product to do what you can best with it, anyhow. At least, from a creative standpoint. And simply moving on in any direction is better than looking at such a minute detail and dwelling about the benefits of one over the other. Always progress. I’ve spoken of this before. You’ll hear from even the most successful producers, engineers, and musicians. Work with what you can, become the best at it, and you’ll reap the rewards of experience – experience is what forms your voice in the world, what makes you stand out among a crowd; how you carry yourself. Best to get as much of that experience as possible and

 

So, enough of my opinion. If you’re looking for the best of the best of the best when it comes to whatever, you’re eventually going to come down to semantics anyways. Because at those levels of minutiae, you’re grasping at straws, and comparing opinions. What you hear isn’t guaranteed to be the same as what the other person hears. Do what you do, and enjoy it.

 

For those so technically inclined, please check out this website, linked to in the thread by user safiire. It compares different DAWs down to their Sample Rate Conversion – which does, indeed, vary. But, as far as any noticeable “coloration” – if it matters to you any further than this, you can likely perform these shootouts yourself. As far as the numbers are concerned, to a producer whose main focus is the general music – pick your DAW and go.

http://src.infinitewave.ca/

 

DAWs: Recording & Mixing Screen Real Estate

[Belated posting]

Greetings of holiday cheer to you!

On this the eve of the new year, I would like to bring up a little something that I’ve been dealing with and personally debating over the past few months. That is the on-screen real estate of your DAW when tracking, mixing, etc.

When editing in my DAW, I run across a problem – quite often – of feeling as if I don’t have enough space. My comfort level is lowered, and I feel too limited to progress within my creative space.

Now typically, I champion limitations. I feel that limitations are a key aspect of creativity. Focusing your efforts within a defined set of boundaries increases the quality of creative output. You could say that boundaries “limit the space of creativity” in general, but I feel that it also focuses that creativity – which I believe gives the creative output more meaning. It promotes a more solid idea instead of an ambiguous one. And I think that the stronger the idea, the greater the impact.

Having one extremely generalized/”heady” idea that few may grasp or comprehend is not my particular proverbial cup of tea. It is for some, and I feel that’s important – it certainly is for any progression in general.

So, when taking that philosophy on creative space, and applying it to music production, you also have to take in to account the fact that music is an audible medium. The screen shouldn’t actually matter much – but only in the tracking (read: active recording) realm.

In the ideal world, you should be able to have access to everything that you are using at any specific time. The problem with mixing and mastering in the audio world is that a LOT is happening at that time. You have a hundred plugins on a hundred channels if you’re stuck in the box (note: not a single one of my songs has ever had even half of that number, but that’s regardless). And perhaps utilizing outboard gear is beneficial to this problem I’m realizing.

For years, I mixed on a single screen, and took a long time to catch up to get myself to incorporate a second. This was exciting at first, but ultimately limiting, as my DAW doesn’t scale across screens very well natively (what does?). I can have separate windows open on the second, such as plugin settings, faders, etc. But that ended up feeling like it was superfluous as well. So, what am I to do?

The solution I invariably come to is in the form of utilizing a higher resolution monitor, correct? How much is too much? 2K? 4K? 8K? And by then, I’m beginning to break the bank, killing my drive with all of the possibilities, and potentially limiting myself on the other sweetness of production as the improvement of the sound, not the workflow. It’s frustrating to get caught up on something, and feeling as if you can no longer work with what you have. It’s the bane of the bedroom producer – having exactly what you need, but always wanting more. I don’t aspire to have the exact gear that my betters (and even peers) in the music production industry have, but I do have this innate need to have better and better things – consumerist culture. What a first world problem.

What are your thoughts and considerations when it comes to this subject?

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Presets: Why Now?

Achieve a solid, great foundation, and build from that. That’s my opinion on presets.

I have been mixing and producing my own music in various genres for 13 years, and recording hard rock & metal (guitar-based music) for at least 8. For a long time, I would struggle to find exactly the sound I was going for, building, tweaking, and attempting to get something big from something very little. There is a stigma attached to “presets” in the music & sound design industry. Read More »